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Home / Tips and Tricks / How social media marketers use FOMO to sell you things and how you can keep your money

How social media marketers use FOMO to sell you things and how you can keep your money

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A "real person" who evaluates a product may seem more reliable than traditional commercials.

Thomas Trutschel / Getty Images

FOMO, or the "fear of missing", only appeared in the popular lexicon in recent years, but it has always been part of our culture. You may feel that you have been banned if you cannot go to an event with friends and know that you will see them post later about the fun they have without you on social media. Or you can feel anxious if you have missed a festival that looked nice. This is FOMO.

What you may not recognize is that FOMO does not only apply to your personal life: advertisers have been abusing your fears to sell your products for decades. If you now buy X you will be so much happier. If you do not buy X now, you will never find good luck. It is a basic principle used in marketing to make you think that you need something, which is made even more powerful in combination with ambitious photos and influencers on social media. But there are ways to combat this FOMO and keep advertisers out of your life and wallet.

How social media have made FOMO worse

FOMO arises when feelings of social isolation or rejection contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, according to professor Deanna Barch, president of the psychology and brain sciences department at Washington University. [19659008] Although advertisements contain the same messages as always, the frequency with which we see them has increased dramatically over the past decade thanks to our smartphones and social media. According to Bank My Cell data, five billion people worldwide own mobile devices. The devices are constantly in front of our faces and advertisers know it.

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Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images

"Instagram is a FOMO engine. It shows that other people lead incredible lives and do incredible things that you don't do," said Adam Alter, associate professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University. in an email.

This can be difficult enough to deal with when you look at pictures of people you know. But social media FOMO gives advertisers the ability to convince you to buy things at a new level. When you scroll on Instagram you see an advertisement of people you follow after every four messages. That means mixed with photos of your nephew's tropical vacation and your friend's cute new dog, ads have been created to resemble photo-perfect Instagram posts and attract your attention.

To make matters worse, it seems that almost every product that you download Google or app you download later appears as an advertisement on Instagram or the parent company, Facebook . This gives companies with sales goals in mind unrestricted access to users through multiple social media platforms that are often connected.

How advertisers use FOMO to make you buy things

Most advertisements are based on cultivating a sense of urgency and an atmosphere of exclusivity to attract customers. You may see a discounted ad linked to a ticking clock – you only have 24 hours to take advantage of this deal! If you click on that flashy discount, you may be asked to sign up for a membership and an email list to get more ads on your screen every day.

Mix these factors with the promise of only a "limited number of products" and it is a powerful combination. The more scarce a product is, the more valuable it becomes to people, Alter said.

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Social media make it easier than ever to shop online. Cesar Salza / CNET

"Scarcity in itself is a source of value because it means that you have something that other people cannot have," Alter said. "Missing – or the fear of missing – plays scarcity. The idea of ​​not experiencing or having what other people want makes that thing more valuable, and marketers know this. They artificially play into the possibility that you perhaps miss out, which makes the subject to which they refer more valuable. "

Moreover, companies often combine FOMO with influencer marketing, a growing space that is expected to reach $ 10 billion in 2022. I know I spend more time on an advertisement that shows that a "real person" is testing a product and giving a quick review instead of a more traditional advertisement. And I'm not the only one – research shows that audiences consider influencers more authentic than brands. In reality, today's influencer advertising does not differ much from traditional commercials. It just feels more accessible because it is on our phones and gives brands a human face.

Part of the power of social media ads is that, just like our friends, influencers and brands use these platforms to show us only the best parts of people, Alter commented – best hair days, best makeup , the product worked well, the house is clean, the sun shines – and if you use this product, you have those things too!

How to Avoid FOMO

Understanding that FOMO is being used as a marketing tactic is part of the struggle to get past it, Alter said. If you know the tricks that marketers use, you can think for a moment before making an impulsive FOMO-based purchase.

If urgency and scarcity are removed from the hypothetical marketing comparison, FOMO loses a lot of power.

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Sometimes only a break on social media can help alleviate FOMO.

Zhang Peng / Getty Images

Doing your own research can also save you fear and money. See if the product you are looking for is available elsewhere, and compare prices and find reviews of people who do not sell the product . It may be that there is actually no time limit on sales, that there is a better price somewhere else or that you find the product of another company better.

When you buy something on a website, don't let the company make you guilty of signing up for something you don't want or need. You've probably seen this before: you're on a website and a discount offer appears when you sign up for a membership. To encourage you on & # 39; Yes & # 39; clicking the & # 39; No & # 39; could be something like & # 39; No, I don't want to save much money & # 39 ;.

Other times the site requires your e-mail address, even if you know you will only use it once. You sign up with every keystroke imagining the endless emails from the site that flood your inbox. Don't worry – a unsubscribe option is usually in a minuscule print at the bottom of the email. It is also OK to create an email address that is only intended for signing up for things on websites. That way your main inbox is not filled with advertisements and nonsense (and it is safe if one of those sites is hacked). ]] gettyimages-1176690537 “/>

Enjoying an event without your phone can actually feel better than worrying about capturing the perfect moment.

Ollie Millington / Getty Images

To take a break from the screen on FOMO-based advertisements, you can also view a number of digital wellness tools available to you today, in app form or built into your devices. Google Facebook Instagram, Apple and others have recorded screen-time detox tools in the past year .

Technology consultant Tchiki Davis, who studies welfare technology, says that digital welfare tools are useful, but it also helps to have some introspection.

"Why do we get that feeling? Do we feel like we want to be socially connected? Do we feel lonely? Or do we feel anxious or sad, or is there some kind of emotional motivator that makes us want to buy things or do things? who we don't normally do or who aren't invited to? "she said.

In the end, Davis encourages people to question the true origin of their FOMO and what emotions guide their behavior.

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